Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cruelty to Animals - Snail Bait

Sorry to depart from the usual topic, but I just witnessed one of the most horrible things I've ever seen.

We have our dog in the vet, recovering from a splenectomy (yes dogs get them as well).

There was a beautiful, young, chocolate-colored dog in another pen. He was restless when I first walked by him, but despite being on anti-seizure medicine, he was getting more and more restless. As I was visiting my dog, and could more clearly see him, I noticed he was basically having full, constant, convulsions. His eyes were staring straight ahead, and his limbs where flailing around as if his whole body was in relentless, terrible motion. It was one of the most horrific things I've had to witness.

I overheard the vet techs talking that they had given the maximum dose of the anti-convulsive drug that they could. He was getting worse and worse, they said. The dog could not swallow even a drop of water.

I asked the vet tech standing nearby what had happened. She said that the dog had eaten snail bait.

I've since found out that snail bait contains metaldehyde, a toxin that is poisonous to animals, wildlife, and children(!). It is flavored with molassas to be attractive to snails. You can imagine what a young puppy would do when there was tasty 'meals' spread around the back yard.

Why this product is permitted to be sold is beyond me. Obviously, the poor dog's owners cared about their animal, because they took him to the emergency vet. Yet they apparently didn't read the small warning label on the back that warned against putting the product where dogs and small children could find and eat it (yes, children have died from eating this crap).

There are other snail control products available that don't contain
metaldehyde. And there are of course other control methods that don't subject animals to a slow, painful death.

Seeing that poor animal suffer such a heart-breaking event was enough to be seared in my mind as long as I live. If others could see that dog, I wouldn't believe that
metaldehyde wouldn't be banned immediately for at least residential use.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't use this product where pets, wild animals, and even children could encounter it. This is not a painless death. It is torturing an animal to death.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stable, so far

Two plus months from my last FCR cycle, my marrow is damaged, but I am doing OK in spite of that. I've managed to avoid infections (knock on wood) and am working and carrying on a relatively normal existence.

I still have low platelets, low WBC, am neutropenic, but as of the results of the last blood test I've seen shows, the hemaglobin has come back and is now in the 12.5 range, which is a lot better than the 7.9 range I was in last fall.

I see Dr. Kipps later this month. I'll have a BMB and get his usual thorough exam. I know I have not had a molecular remission, nor a complete remission, since I still have enlarged nodes. We will see what kind of partial remission I'm in.

One unfortunate note is that we are dealing with a sick dog. He has been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, which is a cancer of the blood vessel cells. He has a massive spleen that could rupture with fatal results at any time. We've been offered surgery with the hope he may live another few months, but since he is 16, has an undetermined secondary mass in his stomach, we probably won't put our old guy through that.

Spring has come early again to Sacramento, with the fruit trees blossoming with all vigor.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Vitamin Might Help Boost Neutrophil Counts

Anybody seen this one? This is an interesting idea. I tried reading the abstract of the paper itself and I must say I would not have drawn this conclusion, but I didn't read the full paper, so...

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, and is generally found to be safe even in relatively high doses. Caution is called for, though. It's a good idea to check with the doc regarding the use of this or any other supplement. Also, the increase in counts is temporary (darn!). It may help us be safer from infections, though.

I hope there are more studies in this area. Neutropenia is a serious problem that (obviously) can kill.

The doses cited in the paper work out to between 750-1500 mg for a 165 pound man. The RDA is only 16 mg, so this qualifies as more medicine than supplementation. Also, niacin, the other common form of vitamin B3, has been linked to the growth of new blood vessels in the tumor. Tumors can't grow past a certain point without vascular support. This is true even in CLL, since lymph nodes need new blood vessels to grow, and increase microvascularization in the marrow has been linke to CLL progression.

Any comments?

Vitamin B3 Fuels Neutrophil Production 2/23/2009

As the first line of defense against invading microbes, neutrophils
are the “foot soldiers” of the innate immune system. Upon release
from the bone marrow, neutrophils circulate in the blood for only a
few hours before homing to peripheral tissues where they survive at
most for 2 or 3 days. To keep up with the heavy demand for these
short-lived cells, a normal healthy adult produces approximately 10 to the 11th power
neutrophils each day and up to 10 times that number in the setting of
acute infection.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience disruptions
in neutrophil homeostasis, which places them at increased risk for
infection. The ability to boost neutrophil production with
recombinant granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) has
revolutionized care for patients with chemotherapy-induced febrile (fever)
neutropenia. However, the molecular mechanism by which G-CSF induces
myeloid differentiation remains poorly understood.

A team of researchers at Hannover Medical School in Germany recently
reported a major breakthrough in neutrophil development that may have
important clinical implications. Upon binding to its receptor on the
surface of myeloid progenitor cells, G-CSF turns on an enzyme that
converts intracellular vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) into an activate
metabolite (nicotinamide monocleotide). The researchers found that
this is the rate-limiting step in a signal transduction pathway that
triggers granulopoiesis.

Addition of vitamin B3 or its precursor induced granulocyte
differentiation of cultured hematopoietic stem cells. Administration
of high doses (10-20mg/kg/day) of vitamin B3 to six healthy
individuals resulted in significant increases in neutrophil count over
a 7 day period and a return to physiological cell counts when vitamin
B3 was withdrawn.

These findings identify a new role for vitamin B3 in granulopoiesis
and beg for clinical trials to evaluate the use of vitamin B3 either
alone or in combination with G-CSF for the treatment of neutropenia.


Skokowa J, Lan D, Thakur BK, et al. NAMPT is essential for the
G-CSF-induced myeloid differentiation via a NAD+-sirtuin-1-dependent
pathway. Nat Med. 2009;15(2):151-158.